And another strong woman from our Brute Yogi Tribe!

And another strong woman from our Brute Yogi Tribe!

Katelyn Bottoms is a fierce one and I am so glad she trusted me to work with her!  She contacted me just before I was tapping out on maternity leave.  I was hesitant at first since I couldn’t really be there for her as much as she needed me to be, but after chatting for a bit, I

Mother & Daughter

Mother & Daughter

could see the commitment in her eyes and her drive to get strong and really become the fierce momma that she could be so I was pumped to help her along!  A full time student, military wife, and full time mom, Katelyn is tenacious but…she hates cardio and especially hates burpees. Her visceral response to any workout I gave her or did with her that had burpees was clearly felt, seen, and heard.  (Too bad I don’t scare that easily!  haha!)  Seriously though, she is a natural strength athlete who can lift some heavy shit and once I taught her to move well, move well she did!

imagesShe had me get her accustomed to strongman implements while working on her base of strength and her…cardio, yes cardio.  She made time in her life to get her ass to the gym for the only two precious hours she had each day while her daughter was in pre-school.  She never gave up or let the demands of school and home life get in the way of her goals.  I could take a page from her book!

Like I’ve said in previous posts, I get attached to some of my clients and Katelyn is definitely one of them!  When baby life got in the way of my working with her, she didn’t miss a beat and is now playing rugby!  I look forward to the day that I can text her and let her know that I will be at the gym and we can do some tire flips (her favorite) and some burpees (my favorite) together again!

How did you meet Lisa, and how did you decide she was worth working with?

I first met Lisa in November 2015, I was looking for a personal trainer and had found her on the Brute Strength Gym website. I filled out her questionnaire, emailed it in, and she got back to me pretty quickly. We met up officially a few days later and started working together right after that. I knew immediately that I was going to enjoy working with Lisa. She was warm, personable, and so kind. Being as nervous as I was, she helped me to feel comfortable and calm.

What were your goals? Was she helpful in reaching them?14741675_10207183758022296_1360900881_n

My goals coming in were to get in shape physically and mentally; I was literally starting from square one. Lisa started with the basics and helped build a solid foundation in which to start my fitness journey. Each move was explained in detail from how to do it and why. If she couldn’t show me or clarify in person, she sent articles and videos. She really helped me to build a confidence in what I was doing and in myself.
Although I came to Lisa to for help, I’m just not a huge fan of physical fitness. I’m not one of those that thinks, “lets go to the gym, it’ll be FUN!” Nope. Not me. However, Lisa helped me venture out and discover new avenues that I loved doing. Things like strongman and powerlifting. She made it fun for me and that was so important.

Would you recommend Lisa as a trainer – massage therapist or yoga teacher? What makes her so special?

Not only has Lisa been my trainer but I’ve also had the opportunity to attend one of her yoga classes and I would absolutely recommend her to anyone. Lisa was not my first rodeo; I previously had a personal trainer at one of those chain store gyms ? The difference with Lisa is her genuine awareness of each one of her clients. I was never just an appointment; she took a real interest in my journey and goals. She also took an interest in me as a person. She listened to me, my body, and my workouts were tailored to fit my needs. In all of our sessions, she was so focused on me and the work I was doing, I knew she was doing her best to make me into the best athlete possible. She always pushed me to my limits and encouraged me to go a step further; I learned through Lisa that I was much stronger than I knew.

14689238_10207183756742264_1501843851_oWhat is your favorite thing about working with Lisa?

Everything! Lisa and I became fast friends and session days were my favorite! I looked forward to them every week. I wish we could see each other everyday! Lisa and Anne-Marie are such unique souls. These two are rare gems, so honest and authentic. I’m beyond blessed and fortunate to be a member of their tribe!


Meet another Brute Yoga Tribe member!

Meet another Brute Yoga Tribe member!

Let us introduce you to another one of our tribe members!  We would like you to meet Dolores “Yogi D” Little.  She is the OG of the Brute Ladies, as they’ve become known at Brute Strength Gym.


Dolores has had a knack for talking her yoga buddies into joining her in the gym. “You can do anything for an hour!” Sandy, is OG #2!

I’ve been a trainer since Summer 2009, and even from the beginning, I’ve had a soft spot for working with regular folks – those just looking to be better versions of themselves, to be out of pain, to have a better quality of life.  Another population that inspires me as a trainer and a coach is yogis seeking a more balanced movement practice – one that would get them out the pain caused from “asana overuse syndrome” (as I call it) or help them learn to find more stability in their bodies.  Dolores fit the bill on both counts!  I was just as shocked as her husband was that she wanted to strength train with me and…I was excited to see what would come of it all!  It has been quite an inspired 2 years.  Dolores has barely missed a workout in these two years and when she is at the gym she is ALL IN!  Her drive and work ethic are unbelievable! So are her math skills!  But…grace isn’t her middle name!  hahahahahaha!  Just ask any of her workout buddies – Dolores needs orange cones and safety equipment to move about the gym.  We love her and we love giving her shit!  Ask her about her bench press incident!!

brute-yoga-3It has been my sincerest pleasure to work with Dolores and to watch her get stronger, more confident, and even more sassy! She’s grown herself a booty and some mighty fine guns!

How did you meet Lisa, and how did you decide she was worth working with?

I first met Lisa in Nov 2011, when she was co-owner of a yoga studio in Norfolk. Within a few months, I learned she was also a massage therapist and a personal trainer; but it wasn’t until 2014, that I decided I wanted to hire her services as a personal trainer. All my life, I have mastered the art of being an Olympic-class Couch Potato; I’ve never been athletic, I never participated in school sports, and I had never lifted weights. By the age of 53, I started to see how weak my body had become (e.g., couldn’t walk one flight of stairs without becoming winded, couldn’t open jars, could barely carry groceries from car-to-kitchen, etc). It was at this point that I KNEW I needed to do something … and hiring Lisa was my first & only choice. (You should have seen the look on my husband’s face when I told him I’d hired a trainer – “YOU?!?” It was nice to see I could still shock him after 23 years together). Whenever possible, I like to conduct business with women – especially when that business involves my body; who better to understand how a woman’s body works than another woman, right?!? Case in point: why would a woman go to a male gynecologist, and why would a man go to a female urologist?

What were your goals? Was she helpful at reaching them?

50ish years strong

50ish years strong

My original goals were to get strong enough to perform simple tasks around the house, and lose a little weight. Poor Lisa – she had no idea what she was getting herself into. That first day at Brute Strength Gym I was a HOT MESS!!! I couldn’t do 10 sit-ups without cheating. She pulled out a crossfit box and asked if I could jump on it … and I just laughed. Then she asked me to step up on the box; I could do it with my right leg, but notlake-yoga-1 with my left leg … then Lisa laughed. So my step-ups that day were done on the smallest step in the gym – 12″. Through patience, constant encouragement, and a little tough love (every now and then), Lisa has not only helped me reach my initial goals, she has pushed me farther than I ever thought imaginable. I’ve learned that you can never be strong enough; there is always a next level to attain. I now climb stairs two at a time, without ever getting winded; I no longer need my husband to open jars for me; I can even stir the oil in


Namaste Strong, Yogi D!

to a jar of natural peanut butter without needing to take a nap afterwards (it’s the little things in life that bring us joy!) … and I can bench press, dead lift and squat.


Would you recommend Lisa as a trainer, massage therapist, or yoga teacher? What makes her so special?
A big YES to all three!! As a trainer, Lisa’s number one concern is your safety; she is constantly watchful of your form in any type of functional movement, and she manages to correct you without making you feel like you have an inadequate brain. As a massage therapist, she is The Bomb!!! I started getting monthly massage in 1995; over the years, I’ve been to 30+ massage therapists – none of them knows the muscular structure of human body like Lisa does (circle back to why she’s such a great trainer). Her massage style is slow & deep, and she always knows how work whatever needs special attention. Her yoga classes are peaceful, challenging and fun – all at the same time (except for when we’re doing frog – that’s just plain torture!). She welcomes all level students, and makes everyone laugh at least once during each class; each and every one of us walks away with a feeling of peace – it doesn’t get any better than that.


What is your favorite thing about working with Lisa?
Where do I begin???? There are so many reasons …
– She is a no-nonsense woman who treats me like a grown-ass woman!
– She reminds me of my mother – there is love, and friendship, and respect – but she’s not afraid to call you on your crap (I believe this is referred to as a ‘bitch-slap’ in certain circles), and that’s exactly why I hired her as a trainer. I need that accountability.
– She knows me better than I know them myself. Favorite Lisa quote: “You’re stronger than you think!”
– You get absolutely no sympathy when it comes to complaining about a workout; when you tell her, “Damn, that was HARD!”, her usual reply is “It was supposed to be!”
– Oh – and the work is SO MUCH FUN!! Yes, I said it – FUN … even that damn prowler.

We are baaaaack!

We are baaaaack!

Hey, hey, HEY!  It’s been almost two years since we’ve posted here on this blog. WTH, right??!!  It’s been a ghost town up in here for lots of reasons – the biggest being my trying to get pregnant…failing after many tries…trying to figure out why…then having major surgery to feather the nest and make it ready to hold a human…then trying again to make a human…then having said human in all of her uniqueness and down right cute-as-hellness (yet still a baby and kicking her moms’ asses.)  If you care to read about the last two years, you can read all about it on our personal blog.

The Night Before Skylar Joined Us!

The Night Before Skylar Joined Us!

And now, back to business! We wanted to get ourselves back in the swing of writing and sharing and stimulating discussion here on this blog by first simply introducing you to some of our favorite Brute Yogis.  The Brute Yogi Tribe is tight and we couldn’t love what we do as much as we do without them!

Last class before maternity leave!

Last Brute Yoga class before maternity leave!

Our first victim is Rana Parham.  Rana is something special and one of our favorite faces to see in the gym.  Really, when you meet her, the brightness of her light is obvious. She gives really good resting bitch face, but it’s all a front.  Rana is powerful beyond her own comprehension and even though she complains about every single damn thing the entire time she is at the gym, she always finishes with a smile.  She’s usually up for anything – just no planks in Brute Yoga.  What I especially love about Rana is that she can stroll into the gym with nails done, hair on point, and skin glowing – and then still look that way when the workout is over!

Meet Rana!

14358893_10209675204572457_825402651084452541_nHow did you meet Lisa and how did you decide she was worth working with?

I met Lisa at Brute Strength Gym one morning after a Crossfit workout and observing her working with a client and asking her some random questions about improvement of my horrible squat movements and mobility. She was sooooooo nice and I could tell she knew what she was talking about and her methodology sounded completely feasible for where I currently was. I had signed up for my first Powerlifting meet and knew that I had some work to do and needed a movement coat in order to get there.

What were your goals? Was she helpful in reaching them?

My goals were at that time to gain depth in my squat, plain and simple. After working with Lisa, those goals actually expanded because I began to see how many other areas of my mobility needed work and I could no longer ignore and expect improvement. I have to say without question working with her has been the sole reason I have any depth in my squat at this time and many of my other movements have improved and are steadily improving. I am not currently competing but as I continue to train she has helped me to get some clarity of expectations for how an athlete my age should prep, train, and compete. It has been extremely valuable.


Would you recommend Lisa as a trainer – massage therapist or yoga teacher? What makes her so special?

I have had the benefit of having Lisa as a trainer, and massage therapist (she has literally put me back together before meets), and as a yoga teacher. Without question I would and do recommend her every opportunity I can. Prior to meeting Lisa I had one yoga experience in my life and I can assure you it was frustrating and uncomfortable. When I attended Lisa’s first class I felt welcomed and I really felt she wanted me to be successful at the level I was at. There is no question when I attend class I am her problem child, but she creates such an environment of acceptance that I cannot help but find some success in the movements I am attempting.

As a trainer she disguises her toughness under that nice sweet spirit. She pushes me past what I think my limits are and I always feel so much better after the training session. She has taught me not compare myself to the progress of others around me because I am uniquely me and that I can do much more than I give myself credit for.


What is your favorite thing about working with Lisa?

I have many, but one of them is that she lets me fuss and complain, yet still pushes me to do more and to be better. She gets me! That is always important to me when I am training in any capacity because I know I can be a handful and I appreciate that she let’s me be who I am (LOL) yet doesn’t take any stuff from me.


Do you want to work with us?  Head over here and see what we do!

Keeping a Neutral Pelvis – what does that mean?

Keeping a Neutral Pelvis – what does that mean?

In my work, I spend a large part of my time educating or re-educating people about feeling and holding a neutral pelvis.  Whether it’s in asana, bodyweight movements in the gym or Olympic or power lifting movements, the neutral pelvis is a fundamental structural position for healthy movement and a strong stable core.  Although the cue to “tuck your tailbone” makes my hackles go up – it’s a blunt explanation that gets most of you there – one of my BFFs, Amber Karnes from Body Positive Yoga did this blog post awhile back and I loved it for it’s simplicity.  Enjoy!  And, as most of my clients will hear me say before they squat, “Brace!”


Here’s a quickie on alignment! We had a question on the Body Positive Yoga Facebook page today about what “keeping the pelvis in a neutral position” means. You probably will hear that in a yoga class and … yeah – what the heck does it mean?! I found this picture online which shows positions for someone riding a horse, but I love the depiction of a “pelvic bucket of water” as it’s a visualization I use myself. 

A pencil drawing of an equestrian rider with the pelvis shown in three positions. The pelvis is illustrated as a bucket of water. First, the lower back is arched with the water spilling forward. Second, the bucket is neutral and the spine retains its natural curves. Third, the pelvis is tucked, the back flattened, and water spills out the back.

To find a neutral pelvic position, think about your pelvis like a bowl of water. Instead of having sassy, Beyoncé-butt, booty-tootch butt where you stick your butt out and arch your low back (spilling the water forward onto your lap), bring the front hip points (hip bones) up and make space in the low back. You can even place your hands like handles on each of your hips (wrap the fingers toward the hip bones and the thumbs toward the sacrum), and move the pelvis around. Try both positions – tucking and tilting until you find neutral.

To find neutral, tuck the tailbone slightly and lift the pubic bone. Don’t tuck your tailbone so much that “water” spills out the back – just let the tailbone be heavy and move toward the heels.

Level the pelvis so your “bowl of water” doesn’t spill. This retains the natural curves in your spine. Make sense?

Dirty Feet?

Dirty Feet?


Go barefoot!  No, seriously….do it.  Take your shoes off, socks too!  Maybe don’t smell your feet and definitely take the toe jam out first.  This is coming from the Brute Yogi that has some serious foot issues (Anne-Marie, if you haven’t figured it out).  Here’s why barefoot rocks:

  • Foot and Ankle Warm-up.  You have a clear path from your body and its nervous system right to what ever your foot touches.  Without the shoes and socks your feet can feel everything underneath and all of the muscles have the opportunity to work in the way that they were designed to work.  This travels all the way up the chain, the knees and hips will join the party and pretty soon everything will be working in harmony.
  • Proprioception is in its purest form without added distractions.  Shoes and socks can mask underlying structural issues as well as the ability to feel the surrounding environment.
  • You will get stronger.  Your squat, deadlift, presses all will improve in technique alone.  If the technique improves the strength will follow.  The feet are the foundation of any standing movement, strengthen those puppies and you’ll create a trend along your athletic continuum.
  • Posture will improve.  Basically see all of the above.

Here’s the deal –

  • Safety first!  Even with shoes on you wouldn’t want to drop dumbbells, bumpers, iron plates, etc on any part of your body – so be aware of your surrounds and move mindfully.  Likewise, you wouldn’t step on sharp glass or nails with shoes on, so there’s little chance of you doing that without (unless of course you’re in to that).
  • MRSA!  Ok, so it’s a real possibility that the gym floor is gross and thus your feet will also be gross once you’ve walked around barefoot for all of 2 seconds.  If you have open sores or cuts on your feet, FOR THE LOVE don’t put anyone, including yourself, in jeopardy of contracting some kind of nastiness.  Otherwise it should be pretty safe as long as you wash your feet after being in the gym, which you should probably be doing anyway.  Again, coming from the girl who used to get athletes foot from just looking at a bathroom floor, I’ve been nastiness free just from making sure I clean with some good ‘ole fashion soap and water.
  • Take it slow.  Just like the barefoot running craze, you don’t want to go naked for a marathon right out of the gate.  Just do your warm-up, use an empty barbell going through your usual oly routine or squat routine or deadlift routine or whatever it is you do before you hammer out some awesome sweat induced funness in the gym.  Maybe work up to adding some weight to the barbell or doing some light jogging back and forth on the gym floor.  Don’t go and add your 1RM to the barbell and expect to feel amazing afterwards.  There’s potential (not an absolute) that you could injure yourself if you go to heavy, decide to do an entire WOD, go for a 20 minute run or what ever craziness you think up for yourself.  Your feet are likely not used to that type of loading and having a set back is worse than spending a little extra time in the gym preparing the body for work.

Reluctantly I went barefoot in the gym after much pressure from the number 1 Brute Yogi (that’s Lisa of course).  The first day I knew I was converted.  I just owned it, and went full on naked foot for my warm-up and haven’t looked back.  It’s been over a month and I can honestly say that I’ve noticed a difference in my sessions at the gym.  My feet get super dirty but they’re so nice and warm before I start lifting.  I feel like it’s helped increase my over all strength as my joints and muscles feel better as I start adding the weight on the bar and put my shoes back on.  It also seems as though I’m recovering faster as well.  Whether or not this is due 100% to my decision to go naked footed or not, I know I can attribute at least some of this recent gym success to my feet nudity.